The Common Typikon

The full Typikon of the Byzantine Rite (in Church Slavonic or Greek) is extremely complicated, since it was originally written for use in monasteries where extensive familiarity with all the liturgical services was assumed. To make the use of the Typikon easier in a parish settings, several liturgical scholars have created compact summaries of the Typikon's rules for coordinating liturgical services.

Father David Petras, a priest of the Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh, has prepared such as volume, which he called the Common Typikon. This loose-leaf booklet of approximately 100 pages is available from the Byzantine Semin ary Press.

Parishes which celebrate Vespers, Matins, and other services (basically, anything apart from the Divine Liturgy) should have a copy of the Common Typikon, and cantors in these parishes should learn how to use it.

The rest of this article describes the different sections of the Common Typikon.

The Typikon of the Church

This section summarizes the history of the Typikon of the Byzantine Rite, and provides guidance in the use of the entire volume. It should be read first!

Common Formats

This is the main section of the Common Typikon. It divides the days of the year into the following categories. For each category, the Common Typikon describes in detail how to properly celebrate Vespers, Compline, Matins, Hours, and the Divine Liturgy.

Format 1: Ordinary saint on a weekday (Monday to Friday)
Format 2: Ordinary saint on a Saturday
Format 3: Two saints on a weekday
Format 4: Day of Alleluia in a minor fast
Format 5: Day of Alleluia on Saturday
Format 6: Saint with six stichera on a weekday
Format 7: Saint with Great Doxology on a weekday
Format 8: Polyeleos saint on a weekday
Format 9: Saint with a vigil (or patronal feast) on a weekday
Format 10: Pre-festive or post-festive day with an ordinary saint on a weekday (including six-stichera or Great Doxology)
Format 11: Pre-festive or post-festive day with a polyeleos saint, vigil-rank saint, or patronal feast on a weekday
Format 12: Great Feast of our Lord or the Mother of God
Format 13: Otdanije (day of dismissal) of a feast of our Lord or of the Mother of God

Format 14: Sunday with an ordinary saint
Format 15: Sunday and a saint with six stichera or a saint with Great Doxology
Format 16: Sunday within a pre- or post-festive period and an ordinary saint (including six-stichera or Great Doxology)
Format 17: Sunday with a polyeleos saint, vigil-rank saint, or patronal saint
Format 18: Sunday and a pre-festive or post-festive day with a polyeleos saint, vigil-rank saint, or patronal saint
Format 19: Sunday with a feast of the Mother of God
Format 20: Sunday and an otdanije (day of dismissal) of a feast of our Lord or of the Mother of God

Format 21: Weekdays (Monday to Friday) of the Triodion and the Great Fast
Format 22: Weekday during the Great Fast with a polyeleos saint, vigil-rank saint, or patronal saint
Format 23: Sundays during the Triodion (Publican and Pharisee to the 5th Sunday of the Fast)

Format 24: Weekdays during the Paschal season
Format 25: Sundays during the Paschal season (Pascha to Ascension)
Format 26: Polyeleos saint, vigil-rank saint, or patronal saint on a weekday during the Paschal season

Unless otherwise specified, "weekday" refers to Monday through Saturday.

These formats are not intended to be used by themselves; instead, priests and cantors can check the Annual Typikon to find which format is used for a particular day, along with pointers to sources for the hymns and readings to be used. Then they can consult the formats in the Common Typikon to arrange and hymns in the proper fashion.

Note: actually using the formats in the Common Typikon requires some familiarity with the services. If you have questions, you are welcome to send them to mci@archpitt.org.

Quick Reference Typikon for the Divine Liturgy

For simplicity and convenience, this section repeats the formats, giving JUST the information needed to celebrate the Divine Liturgy.

Patronal Feasts

This section lists the parish titles (name saints) of all the parishes in the Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Church, along with the patronal feast day for each. It also provides guidelines for how a parish's feast day is to be celebrated.

Commons for the Classes of Saints

In the Slav tradition, it was understood that not all parishes would have a complete set of the twelve volumes of the Menaion, and so saints' hymns for lesser or "ordinary" saints might not be available. Instead, appropriate hymns were assembled for the various "classes" of saints:

This section of the Common Typikon gives the Vespers readings, Matins prokeimenon and Gospel, and Divine Liturgy prokeimenon, epistle, Alleluia, Gospel reading, and Communion Hymn for each of these classes of saints, as well as for each day of the week.

NOTE: the Vespers and Matins readings are only used when an ordinary saint is celebrated as one of higher rank: for example, if a parish is named after an otherwise obscure saint. Daily Vespers and Matins do not ordinarily include readings.

Appendix 1: Psalmody in the Divine Office

This section of the Common Typikon explains how the 150 psalms of the Psalter are used in the Byzantine tradition, and shows how the psalms are divided into groups called kathismata and used in the course of a week. It also provides a second way of dividing the psalter, based on the tradition of the "sung office" of the city of Constantinople, where the Byzantine Rite came into being.

Appemdox 2: Theotokia

This section of the Common Typikon explains how special hymns to the Mother of God (called theotokia) are used in the Divine Liturgy and the other services. (Theotokia are often omitted in the Divine Liturgy, while their use in the other services requires more extensive explanation. In particular, there are different traditions for how these hymns are sung, which this section attempts to explain.)

When two saints or classes of saints are commemorated (for example, in Format 3 above), the commons that are specified can help make it clear which of the saints are the ones to be commemorated liturgically. (Very often, the "extra" saints of the day are only remembered publicly in churches dedicated to them, or in regions with a special devotion to them.)

Where to find the hymns for the day

The Format and Commons are followed by a list of the pages in various editions of liturgical books where the hymns for the saint(s) of the day can be found. These books are listed by their abbreviations, which are given in a table at the front of the annual typikon. Books from various traditions are used, since the annual typikon is used by a variety of local Churches.